MADISON, WIS. – The University of Wisconsin-Madison's Center for Dairy Research and Dairy Farmers of Wisconsin announced that 10 cheesemakers graduated in 2024 from the state’s signature master cheesemaker program.

This year’s batch of certified experts included just the third female master in the program’s history, Nasonville Dairy, Inc.’s Sara Griesbach. Plus, her Nasonville Dairy colleague, Brian Jackson, added two more certifications to his repertoire, giving him 10 in total and making him the second-most decorated cheesemaker to come through the program.

Organized by the Center for Dairy Research and Dairy Farmers of Wisconsin, the Wisconsin Master Cheesemaker Program is unique in the United States, with Switzerland being the home to the other comparable program dedicated to cheesemaking expertise.

The program’s organizers said the coursework is designed to make Wisconsin’s master cheesemakers the best in their field and play “a crucial role” in preserving and advancing the state’s cheesemaking tradition.

"This certification (and honor) is hard to come by, and it's certainly not an easy feat," said Chad Vincent, Dairy Farmers of Wisconsin’s chief executive officer. "Only a select few earn the prestigious title of Wisconsin Master Cheesemaker. These individuals have dedicated years to perfecting their skills, honing their craft and expanding their knowledge of cheese production."

Nasonville Dairy’s Brown picked up his ninth and 10th certifications – for queso blanco and cheese curds – this year. The program said the only cheesemaker with more master certifications is Bruce Workman.

The newest round of graduates included five who achieved master cheesemaker status for the first time and five who returned to the program for additional certifications.

The Wisconsin Master Cheesemaker Program’s first-time graduates were:

• Sara Griesbach, Nasonville Dairy – certified for cheddar and Monterey jack

• Andy Hatch, Uplands Cheese Company – certified for hard surface ripened cheese

• Michael Newman, BelGioioso Cheese – certified for fresh mozzarella

• Aaron Quick, Sartori Cheese – certified for asiago and parmesan

• Jason Radke, BelGioioso Cheese – certified for fresh mozzarella and ricotta

Returning graduates were:

• Adam Buholzer, Klondike Cheese Company – certified for brick and gouda

• Matt Erdley, Klondike Cheese Company – certified for gouda and Havarti

• Kirk Hansen, Nasonville Dairy – certified for asiago and cheese

• Tony Hook, Hook's Cheese Company, Inc. – certified for cheddar

• Brian Jackson, Nasonville Dairy – certified for cheese curds and queso